'Force India not hit by Mallya issue'

A court warrant against Vijay Mallya over his airline business has no repercussions for his Force India Formula One team, deputy principal Bob Fernley told Reuters on Sunday.

Airport operator GMR Infrastructure said on Friday that a non-bailable warrant had been issued against Mallya and other executives of troubled Kingfisher Airlines after four cheques had bounced.

“I think there’s been a request for warrants, I don’t think they’ve been issued... but I am 100 percent sure they haven’t been served,” said Fernley at the Korean Grand Prix. “It doesn’t affect the team at all. It has no bearing whatsoever.

“I don’t think it will go anywhere,” he added of the claim. “It is an offence in India to issue a cheque without the funds being there, for sure. There is substance in that, for sure. Why it was done I don’t know. It is so far below Vijay he wouldn’t have a clue what is going on anyway.”

Mallya bought the British-based Force India team, whose current drivers are Britain’s Paul Di Resta and Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg, at the end of 2007.

The sponsors on the team’s cars are primarily a list of Mallya-owned brands, including Kingfisher Airlines.

Business conglomerate Sahara Group took a 42.5 percent stake in the team last year.
Fernley pointed out that Force India was a completely separate entity from Kingfisher Airlines and was privately funded. “For some reason, in Formula One, we are captivated by our own self-importance.

In Vijay’s world, the Formula One programme is a relatively small entity,” he said. “I’m saddened by the stories because I think it’s probably political mischief that’s gone on in India....Vijay is obviously a target at the moment.”

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